March 29, 1921|
San Antonio, Texas
|Died: October 18, 2001
|Batted: Left||Threw: Left|
|April 15, 1947 for the Philadelphia Athletics|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 24, 1955 for the Cleveland Indians|
|Runs batted in||570|
|Career highlights and awards|
Ferris Roy Fain (March 29, 1921 – October 18, 2001) was an American baseball first baseman in Major League Baseball who played nine seasons with the Philadelphia Athletics, Chicago White Sox, Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians in the American League.
Fain started his career with the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League. He was signed by the Philadelphia Athletics prior to the 1947 season where he became a two-time American League batting champion. Known for his explosive temper on and off the field it affected his playing ability, and the Athletics traded him after the 1952 season. Fain bounced around the league for a couple of years before retiring in 1955. In his later life, Fain became known for his troubles with the law, mainly growing marijuana.
Ferris Fain was born in San Antonio, Texas, the son of Oscar Fain, a jockey best known for leading his horse Duval to a second place finish in the 1912 Kentucky Derby and a domestic maid. He had a "very abusive" childhood, mainly at the hands of the father, who died when he was still a child. His mother was doing domestic work in order for the family to survive. He grew up in Oakland, California, where he graduated from Roosevelt High School. From 1939 through 1946 he was with the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League; he missed three seasons, 1943–45, owing to military service.
Coming to the majors in 1947, the left-handed hitter was a top prospect and had 461 at bats in his rookie season, playing full-time. That year, he batted a solid .291 with seven home runs and 71 runs batted in in 136 games. In the 1948 season, Fain played in 145 games, having an .288 batting average, seven home runs, and what would be a career high 88 runs batted in. Fain was a member of the 1949 Philadelphia Athletics team that set a major league team record of 217 double plays, a record which still stood as of 2010. In 1950 Fain played in a career high 150 games, batting .282 with 10 home runs and 83 RBI as he was named for his first All-Star team.
Fain broke through during the 1951, leading the American League with a .344 batting average. He also hit six homers and 57 RBIs, although a broken foot limited him to 425 at-bats. That year he finished sixth in the Most Valuable Player Award voting as Yogi Berra won the award. During the 1952 season, Fain again led the American League with a .324 batting average. He also led the league in doubles (43), and on-base percentage and third in hits as he finished sixth in the Most Valuable Player award behind winner and A's teammate Bobby Shantz. After the 1952 season, the Athletics traded Fain to the Chicago White Sox for fellow first baseman Eddie Robinson and infielders Ed McGhee and Joe DeMaestri. After the trade, White Sox general manager Frank Lane proclaimed with his acquisition of Fain, the White Sox had the "finest defensive infield in baseball". The New York Yankees was also interested on Fain, but a deal couldn't get completed.
Known for a hot temper on the field, Fain had an off-year in '53 after getting into a brawl in a Maryland café with White Sox fans. Fain was fined $600 by the White Sox, then sued for $50,000. In the 1953 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, Fain scored the only run for the American League in the ninth inning of a 5-1 loss. After suffering a knee injury the following year, he never really got back on track. But on June 16, 1954, he hit an inside-the-park grand slam. He was named to the 1954 Major League Baseball All-Star Game as a starter alongside his White Sox infield teammates Nellie Fox, George Kell and Chico Carrasquel. It made the 1954 White Sox the first team ever to have four infield starters from the same team starting the All-Star Game.
Fain finished with an on-base percentage of over .400 every full year that he played, and was in the top 10 in that category seven times in his career; he ranked in the top 10 in walks eight times.
In a nine-season career, he hit .290 with 48 home runs 570 RBIs, 1139 career hits in 3930 at bats He also had 213 career doubles and a career .424 on-base percentage (13th best all-time). Not least of all, Fain was regarded by some as the best fielding first baseman in the majors until Vic Power showed up to play Fain's old position for the A's.
Fain became a custom home builder in Georgetown, California, in the 1970s. In 1985 the Placerville, California police department raided his home where they found several marijuana plants in his possession. He was charged with growing marijuana and sentenced to five years probation. In 1988, the police conducted another raid at his home, where he was found growing another 400 plants of marijuana in a barn used as a grow house. Fain was charged with possession to sale marijuana and was held without bail. He was sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment. In a 1994 interview with The Sacramento Bee, Fain discussed how he "knew how to grow the stuff. I was as adept at it as I was in playing baseball", and that he was trying to make a living out of it.
- Gold, Eddie (May 3, 1987). "Fans' guide to the Derby". Chicago Sun-Times (via HighBeam Research). Retrieved 25 April 2012.
- Goldstein, Richard (October 27, 2001). "Ferris Fain, A.L. Batting Champion in 1950's, Dies at 80". The New York Times.
- "Ferris Fain Statistics and History". Baseball Reference. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
- Macht, Norman (December 1989). "Old A's Were Masters of the Double Play". Baseball Digest (Books.Google.com). Retrieved 24 April 2011.
- "A Record with Legs: Most Double Plays Turned in a Season". philadelphiaathletics.org. Retrieved 24 April 2011.
- "Sox Get Fain for Robinson". The Milwaukee Journal (Associated Press). January 23, 1953. p. 24. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
- Vanderberg, Bob (July 9, 2003). "Chicago a big-time contributor.". Chicago Tribune (via HighBeam Research). Retrieved 25 April 2012.
- Harris, Elliott (July 10, 2002). "Noteworthy". Chicago Sun-Times (via HighBeam Research). Retrieved 25 April 2012.
- Associated Press (March 23, 1988). "JURISPRUDENCE". Washington Post (via HighBeam Research). Retrieved 25 April 2012.
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube
- Ferris Fain at Find a Grave